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Ubisoft rides remarkable  Watch Dogs  sales to strong Q1 growth
Ubisoft rides remarkable Watch Dogs sales to strong Q1 growth
July 10, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

Today French publisher Ubisoft announced its sales figures for the first quarter of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, reporting significant growth on the back of the company's growing digital games business and the remarkable sales success of Watch Dogs.

The company reportedly reaped 360 million ($489.4 million USD) in sales during the fiscal quarter ending June 30, 2014 [PDF]. That's roughly 386 percent (given constant exchange rates) of the 76 million ($103.4 million USD) the company reported in sales during the same quarter a year prior.

It's worth pointing out that under French accounting law, Ubisoft is not required to publicly report its actual profits until the end of the fiscal year.

Ubisoft had set a sales target of 310 million ($421.5 million USD) for this quarter back in May, when it announced its 2013-2014 fiscal year performance. At the time, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot acknowledged a year-over-year drop in sales and promised investors that the company would see big profits in the current fiscal year on the back of AAA titles like Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4.

During a conference call today with investors, Guillemot confirmed that Ubisoft has sold more than 8 million copies of Watch Dogs since its release at the end of May. Ubisoft previously announced it had sold more copies in the first 24 hours of sale than any game in the company's history, and today Guillemot told investors that Ubisoft would continue to capitalize on the game's success.

"With Watch Dogs we are adding another pillar, alongside the likes of Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, to our recurring flow of highly profitable brands," said Guillemot.

The company also trumpeted significant growth in digital sales, up roughly 149 percent to 84 million ($114.2 million USD) from the 34 million ($46.2 million USD) in digital sales it reportedly saw in the same timeframe last year.

A year ago, games like Far Cry 3 and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger led the company's digital sales charts -- this time around, Watch Dogs dominated, with digital sales accounting for roughly 14 percent of the game's total sales. The company also saw strong sales of free-to-play mobile games like Rayman: Jungle Run and download-only premium titles like Trials Fusion and Child of Light.

Looking ahead, Ubisoft predicts it will have a relatively modest second quarter with a sales target of 85 million ($115.6 million USD). The company is also not adjusting its forecast for the full year, holding fast to a sales target of 1.4 billion ($1.9 billion USD) for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

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Benjamin McCallister
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Enormous success from an extremely mediocre game. That seems to be the creed of AAA studios nowadays huh?

Shea Rutsatz
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It was an enormous MARKETING success, for sure.

Terry Matthes
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@Benjamin McCallister

If you can find a producer to spend that much on a game and have it designed for a niche market then I will eat this post.

It's all a balance. You can't be a huge company the supports thousands and thousands of people and gamble your future away. They make small bets along the way in the forms of niche titles to organically grow their customer base while trying to soothe the general want for AAA games with titles like this. Without the financial stability Watch Dogs gives Ubisoft couldn't afford to make those smaller gambles along the way. Those gambles allow them to really explore new customer bases and business models.

Think of Ubisoft Kind of like Google. Google's main money is AdWords, which in and of itself isn't the most exciting aspect of the company, but it does allow for Google to fail safely on a ton of good ideas it's staff come up with.

Being in a position were you nullify the damage caused by failing generates a ton of creativity, and in the end that's the seed that's making your studio relevant.

I think that such a large game dealing with a culturally relevant topic deserves a nod at the very least.

Michael Joseph
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He just said the game is mediocre. I'd say it's far worse than mediocre. But the point Benjamin is making is that this games market success is not being driven by the quality of it's gameplay. It's being driven by a lot of marketing with the game's themes (information age, big brother, vigilantism, stand your ground) designed to appeal to young people who are disaffected and feel marginalized.

Except this game doesn't really deliver because it's too half baked.

Still, I think the people who designed this game did a lot of thinking about why people enjoy GTA and what a next-gen/21st century version of GTA would look like. The result is a mashup of GTA/Watchmen/Batman. Maybe the next version will be more polished.

George Menhal III
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LOL, here is the other side of the story:

"Our love is conditional, based on sales." You have low sales numbers on the Wii U & 3DS because you aren't even releasing games for them, Ubisoft. The games you have released on these platforms, for the most part, aren't even good. Do you expect a mass influx of established Wii U owners to all at once descend upon their local stores demanding copies of Zombi U? If you want to sell, you need to release. If you're going to release, and want to sell, you'd better make your game a good one. These are basic lessons, right?

Ubisoft has become really, really lame. Watch Dogs is not a good game. Good to know that profits are high, though.